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Smith Creek Lakes

Smith Creek Lakes is an ATV-track trail from Francis Peak (above Farmington) to three small glacial cirque lakes. The trail lies at high altitude (over 9000 feet) and has a few semi-stiff climbs, so despite its short length it's fairly strenuous. In spots, the track is torn up by ATVs, with loose dirt and big rock chunks, requiring upper-intermediate skills. Early-intermediates will do fine by walking a few short rough sections.

This is a beautiful ride with high WOW factor. For those wanting a bit more of a workout, pedal up the gravel Francis Peak road to reach the trailhead.

View over the last -- and largest -- of the three Smith Creek Lakes. Photos by Bruce, July 24, 2003.

If started at Francis Peak, the ride is 3.2 miles each way. The trail rises over ridges then falls into the cirque basin of each lake. Overall, the trail loses about 600 feet descending to the last lake. Total climbing (round trip) will be about 900 feet.

On the ridgeline, looking at the radar domes at the apex of Francis Peak.

Many riders include a portion of the Francis Peak road as part of the ride. Starting from the fork near Farmington Flats, add 4.5 miles (one way) and 2200 vertical feet. From the trailhead in the foothills, add 12.3 miles and 4700 vertical, for a round trip of 31 miles!
The scenery is the star of this ride. You cruise below outcrops of dark precambrian metamorphic rock, through meadows broken by patches of fir and spruce. In general, keep straight at intersections. ATV cheater routes short-change several of the switchbacks.

View of the "spine of the Wasatch" as we drop down switchbacks through the trees.

Hillclimb from Farmington (4800 vertical!)
Park on the left just after road turns uphill
GPS N 40 59.808' W 111 53.060'
0.5   Keep straight, Bench Road  on R
        N 40 60.000' W 111 52.750'
1.3   Road turns to dirt, parking on R
5.0   Campground (bathrooms)
7.8   Straight (L) N 40 59.235' W 111 47.986' 
8.6   Straight past maintenance shed
        Stay on main road
12.3 Francis Peak gate
        N 41 01.650' W 111 50.279' Alt=9250'
        Trail is northbound DT right of gate

The main trail stays on the slope above the lakes. A second route dips down to each lake.

Riding Notes, Smith Creek Lakes
0.0   ATV track to right of gate
0.6   Straight (R goes to view)
        N 41 02.184' W 111 10.162' Alt=9300'
1.1   Fork R (L = Great Western)
        N 41 02.493' W 111 50.303'
1.2   Straight (R down to primitive camp)
        N 41 02.615' W 111 50.259'
1.4   Straight and down switchbacks
        "Cheater routes" reconnect
2.0   First lake
3.2   Last lake
        N 41 03.387' W 111 50.483' Alt=8700'
        track continues 0.3 miles
        to flat for primitive camping

View of the first lake shows the trail curving around the bowl above. These lakes were formed by the gouging action of heavy glacial ice.

Getting there:  Exit I-15 in Farmington. Get to the corner of 600 North and 100 East. (The most direct route there was blocked by construction at the time of my visit 7/03.) Turn north (left if you're going up the hill) on 100 East. Keep right at the fork. Park on the left just past the fork (trail information sign) GPS N 40 59.808' W 111 53.060'. Alternative parking is found at the end of the pavement 1 mile up the canyon. To ride from the upper road fork, drive up the canyon 7 miles and park to left of the fork N 40 59.235' W 111 47.986'.

An alternative route is found about 1/2 mile before the peak (mile 4.0 from the road fork). Take the ATV trail on the right side of the road at N 41 01.283' W 111 50.183' and pedal 1/2 mile uphill to the trailhead.

Riding resources:
One-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Garmin      GPX  
Large-format topo map for printing (1.2 MB):  View map
Lodging, camping, shops:
       Links to Ogden area resources

Copyright 2003 Mad Scientist Software Inc

Thanks to Matt C. for suggesting this trail!